Hiren Kumar Bose caught up with Rolf Studer, co-CEO of Oris during his recent visit to Mumbai. Excerpts from the interview
You had some 60 plus novelties, launched during Baselworld 2017 and recently have introduced the Big Crown ProPilot Worldtimer. I haven’t had the opportunity to see it. Do tell us something about it.
We had totally 65 novelties which included variations in straps and materials at BaselWorld. Yes, we have launched the Big Crown ProPilot Worldtimer, an update to the Oris Worldtimer originally launched in 1997 and now marking its 20th anniversary. The watch can be adjusted to different time zones, simply by rotating the bezel. The 1997 version featured plus and minus pushers on the side of the case that, when pressed, adjusted the local time forwards or backwards in one-hour jumps, without the need to pull out the crown or stop the running of the watch. It also featured small seconds, home time and day/night indicators, and an Oris-patented mechanism that meant the date would keep track of the time adjustment, even if going backwards over midnight. It was a benchmark for the Swiss watch industry and has been used in several Oris watches since. With the new edition we are taking its world time complication to a new level—the pushers have gone and local time is adjusted by rotating the bezel.
Oris is among a handful of independent watchmakers. Is it difficult remaining independent when we see brands like Frederique Constant, Breitling and others being taken over by the conglomerates?
I would put it this way. It would be difficult not to remain independent. We are a small hardworking team. We respect people who buy our novelties, those whom we cater for. We try to create the best watches at a price point people can afford. Yes, it’s tough to remain independent but it’s our spirit that keeps us going. It’s expression of our DNA. To be genuine, remain independent and remain close to the consumer. We believe in offering watches with functional complication without breaking your bank. People are looking for substance. The value should reflect in the product that’s where we excel.
If I am not wrong Oris was among the few which was not affected by the downturn that impacted the Swiss watch industry in the recent years?
Yes, we were not affected by the downturn at all. We don’t care for the quarterly results. We are not a one-market company. We are positioned all around the world. If we want to be there for the long term we need to have a large spectrum of watches which we have, unlike several others.
What are your thrust areas for the coming years?
Certainly the USA. China is a promising market for us. We have high hopes from India. The recent economic policies are tough but I believe the Indian government has done the right thing which in the long run will ensure a sustainable growth.
The Oris Collection has four pillars—Culture, Diving, Aviation, Motor Sports and Divers. Among the four which has most acceptability?
There are always shifts. When China was booming classic watches were most popular but now the trend is for sporty watches. In Europe, the choice is for divers’ watches but in recent years there is resonance for the retro watches.
What is your learning about the Indian market?
Initially, I thought that Indian would be more conservative in their selection of watches but I am surprised they are very European and prefer our sporty watches. Watches like the Artix, the Divers Sixty Five and the ProPilot which are very strong in Europe are liked by Indians too.
Oris so far hasn’t made a tourbillion watch, a favourite complication of most watchmakers. Any hope of an Oris tourbillion watch?
No never. It is a fantastic complication but doesn’t make sense in a wristwatch. Yes, it does make your watch more precise but comes at a price point.